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Kuwaiti MPs targeted the oil, defense and construction ministers in a series of questions, hinting at corruption.

 

MP Adel Al-Saraawi said in a statement that pressure by influential people is being exerted on the cabinet to approve a request by the defense ministry to buy two large transport planes from a local company for KD 131 million. Saraawi said that the defense ministry requested in June supplementary budgetary allocations from the finance ministry to be able to buy the two planes, recalling that the issue was not raised during the discussion of the draft budget in the previous parliament’s term. The request was later sent to the cabinet for consideration and Saraawi said that so far it has not been rejected, which means that political pressure is still being exerted to approve the request. Saraawi said that in July, he sent a series of questions to the defense minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah about the issue and so far he has not received any answer. He said he had asked the minister if the local company has submitted an offer to the defense ministry to sell the two planes and requested a copy of the offer. He also inquired if the offer has been subjected to the necessary technical assessment and if the supreme defense council has been notified of the offer. Saraawi vowed he will pursue the issue to resolve a number of question marks surrounding it.

 

MP Musallam Al-Barrak meanwhile sent a number of questions to Oil Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah about why Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) rushed awarding a contract for Early Production Facilities (EPF) to a local company for KD 440 million against the recommendation of Shell, the foreign advisor appointed by the government, and the central tenders committee. Barrak asked about the technical advice Shell regarding the project and why KOC ignored the advice and rushed to award the huge EPF contract to the local company. He also asked about the opinions of the KOC tenders committee and that of the Central Tenders Committee about the project, and asked why the value of the project was raised three times since 2008 and in spite of that, it was running way behind schedule with many variation orders that boosted the cost.

 

MP Khalaf Dumaitheer targeted South Korea's Hyundai Engineering and Construction Co. which topped the list of bidders for the Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Causeway to Subbiya, offering KD 738 million. Dumaitheer claimed that the company was involved in a similar project in India which collapsed causing the death of 45 people, although Hyundai claimed it was cleared by Indian courts. The lawmaker asked the Minister of Public Works Fadhel Safar why the company was prequalified and allowed to participate in the bids for the causeway despite the collapse of its project in India. He also claimed that the company was facing financial troubles and plans to sell a part of it.

 

October 13, 2010

 

 

Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk


 

It appears that the tensions between the Kuwaiti parliament and government are rising rapidly. So far, the situation is the most tense it has been since the diffusion of the crisis with the prime-minister earlier in the year.

 

Parliament is now intent on addressing three highly contentious issues that directly affect senior members of the ruling family. Underlying the questions, are indirect accusations of corruption against at least two leading members of the ruling family. It is doubtful if the ministers concerned will be able to provide a satisfactory answer to the MPs’ questions. If this happens, it is expected that at least one of the MP’s will refer this to parliament and hence call for the questioning of senior government ministers. Because of the sensitivity of the subjects being discussed, it is more likely than not that the ministers will avoid answering any questions. In this case, they will either resign or the Emir dissolves parliament.

 

This will negatively affect the government’s economic 5-year plan and will likely lead to rising civil unrest. If parliament is indeed dissolved, it is coming at a time of increasing tensions with the country’s Shiite community, and this may therefore lead to an exacerbation of the ethnic situation.